Whistling Ducks, Wood Storks, and Wee Ones at Wakodahatchee

February 23, 2013 at 4:01 am | Posted in For the Family, The Wild Side | Leave a comment
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For as close as Wakodahatchee is to me, I don’t visit nearly enough.  Green Cay is my staple for wildlife walks, but after about a dozen text messages from a fellow bird-nerd friend about her wonderful visits to Wakodahatchee in Delray Beach I decided it was time to visit and see all the nesting birds and hatching babies.

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I’m a believer in first impressions.  When I pulled into the parking lot cars were EVERYWHERE, even parked along the road and in places what didn’t look like they could be converted into parking spaces, but creative drivers managed to make it work.  I couldn’t help but think that something had to be going on today.  As soon as I hit the boardwalk, I saw this Black Crowned Night Heron hanging in the tree where he usually sits.  First bird impressions are a good sign, and I knew if I was already seeing something like this shy bird that it was going to be a good day.

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Shortly after heading up the boardwalk I was surprised by the sight of 5 adorable Black Bellied Whistling Ducks.  Every so often I might be lucky enough to see a pair, but not usually 5 together.  This was already the hilight of my day, I love their adorable “quack” that sounds more like peeping or a whistle. (Hence the name.)  After I was done gawking at them I continued up the boardwalk and saw 3 more.  And then more, and more after that.  All together that day I saw at least 25 Whistling Ducks!  For this bird nerd, that was an exciting day!

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In between all of the Whistling Ducks were some of my other favorite birds as well.  There were quite a few Blue Winged Teals, a Purple Gallinule, several Green Herons, and plenty others that I’ll get to in a little bit…

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As usual, it wasn’t just about the birds either.  There was a rather large Alligator on the same tree that I always see one sunning itself on. (And if this was the same one I used to see last year, holy smokes did it get big!)  Turtles were all over as they usually are here.  Even fish were making themselves seen, like this school of Tilapia that was hanging directly next to the boardwalk, undoubtedly waiting for someone to drop something at least partially edible in the water.

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If there’s one thing Wakodahatchee never seems to lack, it’s nesting birds.  There are several islands here that serve as home to nesting birds of all kinds – Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets in their impressive breeding plumage, Wood Storks, Anhingas, and Cormorants and some of the most popular families you’ll see hanging in the branches and tending to their nests.  Nearly everywhere I turned birds were arranging their nests, building nests, warming their eggs, and taking it easy before the arrival of their little ones.

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Not all birds were peacefully relaxing, some of them already had little beaks to feed and were working hard to care for their noisy little offspring.  There were little white fuzzy baby Anhingas all over and some of the Great Blue Herons already had little ones as well.  Now I don’t speak bird, but I’m pretty sure I could hear the bird term for “Feed me!” ringing out across the wetlands.  Noisy as they are, they’re adorable, and I will make sure I’m back sooner than later to see them grow and see who else is hatching.

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